Concho Valley Transit District's transformational turnaround
In the heart of West Texas, the Concho Valley Transit District serves a 12-county area that is home to more than 150,000 residents. Its fleet of 62 vehicles provides a vital link for many who live and work in urban San Angelo and its surrounding rural regions, ferrying people to and from work, medical appointments, school, and more. Like many public transit agencies, Concho Valley Transit District’s mission is to provide safe, friendly, and reliable transportation.
In 2015, however, the district’s fleet was involved in 13 major collisions, a number that startled district leaders, who came to realize they had fallen short of their mission. That year, Concho Valley embarked on an ambitious organizational overhaul designed to turn things around.
Brought in a Seasoned Team of Managers to Lead Safety and Accountability Efforts
To spearhead a reorganization, the Concho Valley Council of Governments in 2016 brought in a team of seasoned transit managers and charged them with a mandate to put safety, reliability, and customer service at the top of their priority list. Concho Valley Transit District contracted a new GM and hired road supervisors and a new operations manager to help with the transformation. The New GM reports to — and is held accountable by — the Concho Valley Council of Governments, which asked for regular progress updates on safety and performance metrics such as collision frequency and severity and on-time performance.
Invested in New Technology to Better Understand and Monitor Risk
When the new team started at Concho Valley Transit District, supervisors were operating blind.
“There was a lack of resources to monitor and understand our risks and how we could improve,” said Ryan Herrera, operations manager at Concho Valley Transit District. “The technology piece was just not there.”
Although the district had cameras on some of their vehicles, the video had to be manually downloaded and viewed with special software that was installed on only one laptop. The video had no sound, and supervisors had to spend hours scouring through unmanaged footage to locate the clip they needed.
After an extensive evaluation, Concho Valley Transit District selected the Lytx® Driver Safety Program as the primary safety technology for its fleet. Once the system was up and running, supervisors were able to diagnose the root causes of their risks — and there were many.
“It was a lot to take in at first,” Herrera said. “After a while, we were able to see patterns and start prioritizing things we wanted to tackle. One of our biggest problems, for example, was speeding. We didn’t realize how prevalent it was until we saw the data.”
Launched a Comprehensive Coaching Program to Improve Driver Skills
Herrera proceeded to spearhead a comprehensive driver safety and coaching program around the Lytx Driver Safety Program for the fleet’s 54 operators. Each day, he would log into the system to see new events from the previous day. Herrera, who personally conducts 80 percent of the district’s coaching, spends time with individual drivers going through each video captured by the DriveCam event recorder.
“We go through it frame by frame,” Herrera said. “We review every detail — where their eyes are looking, where their hands are resting, whether there’s distracting music in the background. We see all sorts of things, and we discuss every one of them.”
Herrera also makes a point to praise drivers for following proper safety protocols or practicing defensive driving.
“Whenever someone does something right, I make sure to point it out, and I keep the video to use as a training tool,” he said. “We show those videos at our monthly driver meetings. It’s valuable training, and our drivers are proud when they do something well.”
Integrated the Lytx Driver Safety Program into the Organizational Culture and Policies
Once operators grew comfortable with the event recorders and understood their capabilities, Herrera began encouraging drivers to manually trigger the camera anytime something unusual occurred in or around their vehicles.
After an initial hesitation, operators are now routinely activating their event recorders to share what they see on the road with the central office.
“We’ve had videos of big potholes, road construction, police blockades, deer, dogs, you name it,” Herrera said. “Each time there’s a manual recording, I can immediately look at what’s happening and, if necessary, re-route our vehicles to avoid damage or delays.”
As a public transit agency, customer service is at the core of the mission for Herrera and his team. DriveCam event recorders also have come in handy in capturing rider interactions and managing passenger relations — both positive and negative.
“We have video of passengers cussing. But we also have video of when a passenger paid for another passenger, or when a long-time passenger brought burritos for everyone on the bus,” Herrera said.
Along with weaving the Lytx Driver Safety Program into the organizational culture, Concho Valley Transit District also incorporated it into the employee handbook, which was officially adopted by the Concho Valley Council of Governments in September 2017.
Using the Lytx Driver Safety Program to Drive Results
Within a year of implementing the Lytx Driver Safety Program, Concho Valley Transit District saw a 58 percent decrease in collision frequency and a 57 percent drop in collision severity. The organization experienced just four collisions into the fall of 2018, all of which were determined to be unavoidable, compared with 13 collisions in 2015, the year before the district kicked off its transformation. This record placed Concho Valley Transit District among the top performing government fleets of its size among Lytx’s clients.
Herrera’s comprehensive coaching program also had a measurable impact on driver performance, including:
- 82 percent improvement in following distance
- 62 percent reduction in traffic violations
- 26 percent improvement in response rate
- 25 percent improvement in intersection awareness
Most impressively, Herrera’s coaching sessions stuck. About 95 percent of drivers he coached did not repeat their errors — a near perfect coaching effectiveness rate.
Their overall efforts, and the resulting success, hasn’t gone without notice. The Texas Transit Association gave Concho Valley Transit District its prestigious Outstanding Rural Transit System Award in 2017, and Outstanding Small Urban Transit System of the Year in 2018.
“Our mission is safety, reliability and friendliness,” Herrera said. “With safety, our Lytx data and video speak for themselves. I can’t emphasize enough how much this technology has done for us. It’s helped us get to where we are today.”
- Frequent collisions repeatedly marred the district’s record
- Outdated technology left supervisors in the dark on root causes of risk
- Speeding tickets were far too common among its drivers
- Supervisors had few tools to effectively manage public complaints
- Significant reduction in frequency and severity of collisions
- Dramatic drop in traffic violations, including speeding
- Near-perfect coaching effectiveness, with 95 percent of drivers eliminating risky behaviors after a single coaching session
- Overhauled district leadership to emphasize better governance, safety, and accountability
- Implemented the Lytx Driver Safety Program to uncover and address its fleet’s biggest sources of risk
- Launched a comprehensive coaching program that examines every aspect of driver skills
- Encouraged drivers to manually record unexpected events to better manage routing and customer relations
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